Described by The Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin as “the most feminine and charming of the First Growths”, the delicate lure of Margaux has made it a firm favourite for generations. Fans often cite its elegance and grace as the most enthralling elements of the wine. This is a consummately enchanting wine, that marries strength with grace, with truly spell-binding results. Characterised by luxuriant flavours of berries, cassis and violets, the texture of a bottle of Margaux is notably different from that of the Pauillac First Growths – whereas a Mouton Rothschild is marked as bold, powerful wine, a Margaux is sensuous and seductive. However it would be wrong to assume that the wines are light-bodied. Far from it, as the best have an enviable structure, layers of complexity, and formidable length. Other than the Grand Vin, a second wine is made called Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux and, unusually for the appellation, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc white wine: Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux. Château Margaux today has never been stricter in their selection for the Grand Vin and the Pavillon Rouge.
To compare, for the 1982 vintage of Château Margaux, 75% of the production of this 82 hectare estate was going into the Grand Vin and the remaining 25% went into the Pavillon Rouge. In 1997, Château Margaux started to become much more selective and introduced a third selection of juice which they deemed not good enough to go into either of these wines which was sold off in bulk to Bordeaux merchants. Between 2008 and 2009, the price of the Pavillon Rouge tripled in price due to the opening up of the Chinese market. With this huge increase in price on the secondary market, winemaker at the time Paul Pontallier believed that for the wine to live up to its price tag, their selection had to be even stricter, reducing the production of Pavillon Rouge in half and introducing a fourth selection to their production. Yields were also greatly reduced from an average of 55 hectolitres per hectare down to 40. Today just 30% of the production goes into the Grand Vin, 25% goes into the Pavillon Rouge, 20% into their third wine (Margaux du Château Margaux) and the remaining 25% or so is sold off in bulk.
In top vintages such as 2005 or 2010, the Cabernet Sauvignon can dominate the blend and more and more is used in the Grand Vin: whilst the Merlot gives the Grand Vin flesh, winemaker Paul Pontallier believes that it is the Cabernet Sauvignon that gives it greatness. Rigorous selection is the case with the white wine too. The 50 year old Sauvignon Blanc vines produce between 15-25 hectoliters per hectare of which a massive two thirds of production is de-selected during vinification. This is because the estate wants to produce a wine with a certain flavor profile, avoiding the tropical fruit character of earlier picked examples of the varietal whilst at the same time retaining high acidity to give the wine freshness and ageability. During extensive tasting of the tanks, overtly tropical or slightly flabby wine is sold off in bulk.
It goes without saying that the best Bordeaux vintages are particularly strong in Margaux: 1982, 1990, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010 are all stellar years of serious quality. Top modern vintages include 2018, 2015, 2010 and 2000 .